Ahead of tomorrow’s Champions Cup tie with Leinster, Bath centre Ollie Devoto admitted he was shocked by his England call-up from new coach Eddie Jones.
The uncapped 22-year-old will be one of five Bath players in Jones’s 33-man squad, alongside George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Thomas and Anthony Watson.
Devoto will provide cover for Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi, who has only recently recovered from a chronic groin issue.
“Eddie Jones called me and just said to me to take the opportunity,” Devoto said.
“With Manu out there is an opportunity there for me.
“It was a complete shock and I wasn’t expecting it. I was just concentrating on playing for Bath because there is so much competition here and had not even contemplated England.
“But I am delighted, of course.”
For now, Devoto remains focused on the European Champions Cup double-header with Leinster and Toulon.
“I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. I have two European games to play with Bath and then I will join up with the squad.
“The hard work starts now and as in any new environment you want to create an impression, so I will concentrate on doing that.”
A narrow defeat to Toulon last time out in their rearranged European Champions Cup fixture means the West Country side are staring down the barrel of a Pool stage exit.
Two wins from the final two games of their pool, away to Leinster and then welcoming Toulon to the Rec, still might not be enough to put them through.
Captain Stuart Hooper was pleased with his side’s approach in the 12-9 defeat in France, but knows a resurgent Leinster will provide another stiff test:
“During the game, I was really pleased by the way we fronted up,” Hooper told the Bath Chronicle.
“Aggression is a very important part of professional rugby and against a team of world-class players you can’t let them have it all their own way.
“Both physically and tactically, you have to demonstrate to them that you’re going to have an influence on what they do.
“Sometimes that’s through a dominant tackle, or a dominant kicking game.
“Very occasionally it spills over a little bit, but whatever happens it’s very important to know that you have the front foot and you don’t let them mess you around.
“Form-wise, Leinster are a very different side from the one that came to the Rec in November.
“They’ve lost four from four so far in the Champions Cup and I’m sure they’ll want their last game in Europe this year at the RDS to be a successful one.”
Hooper believes Bath supporters will be out in force tomorrow: “I’m sure Dublin will entice quite a few of them across the water and they’ll have a great time there too.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved